How did we get into this housing mess, anyway?

In her new book, author Alyssa Katz argues that ‘delusional thinking’ set the stage for the current crisis.

You may want to add this to your summer reading list: “Our Lot: How Real Estate Came to Own Us.”

Here’s an interview with the author.

If you want to understand how we got into the current housing disaster, author and journalism professor Alyssa Katz has some ideas about the decisions that led us here, starting way back in the Johnson Administration, she says in an interview with

You talk about another real estate bubble in the early ’70s, when everybody who wanted one could get a mortgage. The wreckage that was left behind looks totally familiar.

Yes. Rather infamously, the federal housing administration, which is the government agency that insures mortgages — it’s what built Levittown and all those 1950s suburbs after the war — discriminated very aggressively, on the basis of what was thought to be sound statistical evidence, that the insurance fund would only be safe if it were to insure suburban and overwhelmingly white areas.

So what happened in ’67 and ’68 was that federal housing officials reversed that entirely. They proclaimed, initially just in the riot areas and then more broadly across cities, that FHA, the Federal Housing Administration, would now be open everywhere! And in fact, as I note in the book, the only circumstances under which HUD did not insure mortgages is if the house is literally falling down.

Real estate agents and loan brokers descended on inner cities, trying to find borrowers who would be unlikely to pay their mortgages back, because the real-estate speculator would get paid in full by the federal government, and paid more quickly and more generously, because of forgone interest that they would get compensated for. The sooner that borrower went into foreclosure the more generously that entrepreneur would get paid.

Read more from: MSN Real Estate Blog: How President Johnson Created this Boston condo mess real estate crisis. Not to say that Barney Frank is off the hook.

Okay, what are your thoughs, total BS, or does the writer have a good point?

Please, before you make a comment read this link: The cause of our real estate problems. Over-the-top?

Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


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John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
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